I know this is a somewhat rather late weigh-in on the argument as it seems to have died down on the internet but I thought I'd give my ten pence anyway.
Rumours have been snaking around the internet that Anna Wintour is to be approached by Barack Obama for the position of US ambassador to the UK. Wintour’s publicist has outright denied that she would take up such an offer in the unlikely event she was offered it. However, regardless of this many have been speculating about whether or not Wintour is a suitable candidate for the position.
Anna Wintour is arguably the most powerful person in the global $200 billion fashion industry today. In her 24-year career as editor-in-chief of US Vogue, she has engineered some very successful business and fashion partnerships. The documentary ‘The September Issue’ showed the blossoming Thakoon and Gap relationship, put together by Wintour who singled out the young designer for the position. She has also raised substantial amounts of money for charity and over $500,000 for Obama’s re-election fund. Furthermore, in an age where many are mourning the death of the printed word and many newspapers and magazines are struggling to gain a decent readership, Wintour has pushed Vogue to the very forefront of fashion publishing.
Nile Gardiner, of The Telegraph, was quite spiteful in the way in which he talked about fashion and dismissed Anna Wintour as merely part of Obama’s ‘obsession with celebrities’. Wintour is not the celebrity face on the front of the magazine as Gardiner woefully dismisses. Instead, she is the woman behind it. The driving force that keeps Vogue as one of the world’s most successful fashion magazines and has a considerable influence in the careers of both established and up-and-coming fashion designers. It seems Gardiner expects Wintour to take on the persona of her supposed Devil Wears Prada alter ego Miranda Priestly with the headline ‘the Special Relationship is not a fashion statement’. I imagine the only reaction Miranda Priestly-esque reaction Wintour would have to that wholly patronising headline is a dismissing roll of the eyes.
However, dealing with business issues does not necessarily translate well into dealing with important diplomatic issues, which is the central role of a US ambassador. ‘A Rose in the Desert’ was the headline of a 3,000 word glowing report of the Asma al-Assad, first lady of Assad’s murderous Syrian regime, printed by Vogue in march 2011. Many consider this mistake to have blighted Wintour’s chances at the post and would be a shady point in the unlikely event she were offered it. Fortunately, Vogue later distanced itself from the deplorable Assad regime and the article was pulled from their website. However, somebody in such an instrumental diplomatic position, as the US ambassador to the UK would be, cannot afford to make a mistake like this.
Ultimately, I think Anna Wintour is unsuitable for the position of US ambassador to the UK because of her lack of political experience, and on this basis only. Her position as a powerful business woman simply cannot be disputed and I want to tear my hair out when I read online articles in relation to this issue that belittle her for the position purely on the basis of her role in the ‘seemingly pointless’ fashion business.